As a long and grueling season came to an end with the series loss at the hands of Bangladesh in ODIs there was a lot of guessing about the team that would be travelling to Zimbabwe and the selection committee did make some exciting and unexpected additions and omissions to the squad. The changes were made after some “senior” players called for a rest in order to get over the fatigue and prepare themselves for another long season. In this article we would like to focus on 5 players for whom the Zimbabwe series holds enormous importance.
The selection committee has shown a lot of faith in the Mumbai lad and entrusted him to lead the team for the tour, but this call was severely contested by the media at the presser after the team was announced. Amidst getting dropped for the final two games in Bangladesh the selectors chose him and stated that they would like to see him perform with an added responsibility. Rahane has been performing well across all formats and this tour presents him a perfect opportunity to silence his critics and emerge out as another option for captaincy as well.
If one goes tries to make a list of the “unlucky” Indian cricketers in the last 8-10 years then Tiwary would find himself on top of the list. His Indian debut was cut short after he injured his shoulder on the eve of the match and then when he made his debut he was facing Brett Lee on a juicy Gabba wicket just 18 hours after flown in as a cover, since then he has done catching up to find a spot in the Indian squad. Sizeable and handy contributions in the 8 matches he has played since have not been enough to make him a regular feature in the squad. The upcoming tour is a golden opportunity for the Bengal captain to make a mark with the bat and regain his Indian cap.
His inclusion as the wicketkeeper-batsman in the team in absence of MS Dhoni has placed him as his backup in the limited overs. After he was dropped from the team in 2008, Uthappa had a couple of really good IPL seasons but then his performance dipped drastically. He went out of way to find a personal batting coach in Pravin Amre and since then he has found his consistency in domestic cricket and the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders and piled up the runs. A good show with the bat and behind stumps will boost his chance to be the replacement for Dhoni if the captain decides to retire in the shorter formats as well in the near future.
It has been a little over 4 years that the off spinner has turned out in colors for India and after a good IPL season he’s back in the mix and will be the most experienced player in the side. He would’ve drawn confidence from his outing against Bangladesh in the test and like to carry it forward with him in the limited overs format as well. Bhajji has started to give the ball a bit of air again and is also bowling good lines to entice the batsmen in the trap so wickets against Zimbabwe will bolster his chances to become a permanent feature in the squad especially in the wake of dip in performances of Ravindra Jadeja.
Season 8 of the IPL saw the advent of Bhuvneshwar Kumar as a specialist death over bowler, but unfortunately in the process he has lost out on the skills with the new ball. He was not as effective with the new ball in the IPL and continued the trend in the Bangladesh series as well. His wicket taking ability in the early overs is crucial to India’s bowling performances but a bowling average of 36 is not a reflection of his ability to make the ball talk. The Zimbabwe series gives Bhuvi ample chances to get back to his previous best else his lackluster performances alongside his pace will push him back in the pecking order.
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